Life\Health Preparedness

Life\Health Preparedness

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Off to College

Parents - Review Your Insurance Policies Before Your Student Goes Off to School

Sending a student to college can be an emotional and trying time. Remembering to pack everything they will need while away from home is a challenge - and so is understanding your changing insurance needs. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers these tips to help you review and update your insurance policies to cover your college student.

Health Insurance

Most health insurance policies cover dependents who are full-time students until the age of 23. Generally, a student must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester (six or nine credit hours in the summer) to be considered a full-time student. Individual policies differ, so check with your health insurer or benefits administrator about how the policy defines a full-time student and the maximum age of coverage.

Know Your Policy

Before leaving home, make sure your student has a copy of the relevant insurance cards and knows about obtaining referrals and approvals (if necessary) before seeking treatment. If you are insured by a health maintenance organization (HMO), check to see if your student will be outside the HMO service area while away at school. If this occurs, the student likely will have coverage for emergency care, but might have to travel to a physician or hospital within the HMO service area for routine care. If your insurer is part of a preferred provider organization (PPO), your insurer may pay benefits at out-of-network levels if you are outside your network. Check your plan provisions or speak with your insurer to find out what level of benefits are provided by your policy.

Student Health Insurance Plans

If your student's healthcare coverage is limited by the network service area, another option is a student health insurance plan. These plans are sold by an insurer that has contracted with a college to offer coverage to its students. In general, these plans have more limited benefits and more exclusions than traditional health insurance plans. Many policies also will exclude routine examinations and injuries sustained while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Renter's Insurance

Many students bring thousands of dollars worth of personal items — such as electronics, a computer, textbooks, clothes, furniture or a bicycle - with them to school. So, whether your student is living on- or off-campus, it's a good idea to review your homeowners policy to see whether your student's personal items will be covered.

Does Your Student Need Renter's Insurance?

If your student is younger than 26 years old, enrolled in classes and living in on-campus housing, your homeowners policy will likely extend to the belongings they take with them. However, if your student is living off-campus, talk with your insurance agent about whether your homeowners coverage will extend to the rental property. If it does not, you might want to consider renter's insurance to protect your student's personal property in the event that it is damaged, destroyed or stolen

A Home Inventory

A comprehensive list of your student's possessions - including purchase prices, model numbers and serial numbers - will help you decide how much renter's insurance your student will need. It's also a good idea to have a detailed inventory in case of disaster, as it will help you and your student should you have to file an insurance claim following a catastrophe. Make sure to take photos or video of the possessions, and store the inventory in a secure, off-site location. Parents should also keep a copy of the inventory and photos.

To download an easy-to-use home inventory checklist and get more tips about disaster preparedness, visit www.insureuonline.org

The Big Move

Before you pack all of your student's belongings into a car or rental trailer, make sure to talk with your insurance agent about insuring the contents. Ask if your homeowners insurance policy will cover the belongings in the student's car or rental trailer before they get to campus. If your student is going to live off-campus, ask your insurance agent if coverage in their renter's policy will extend to the belongings during the move. If not, ask your insurance agent about a separate rider in case of accident or theft.

Auto Insurance

A significant move away from home can have a big impact on your auto insurance policy. If your student is taking a car with them to school, check with your agent about the existing insurance policy. Ask about the rates for the college's city and state before deciding whether to keep your student's car on the family's auto policy. In addition, the insurance company should be notified each semester if the student maintains good grades. Maintaining a certain G.P.A. might make your child eligible for a good student discount.

For more tips on how to keep your auto insurance costs down when your teens start to drive, visit www.insureuonline.org

Identity Theft

As a college student, your child may be more vulnerable to identity theft because of the availability of personal information and the way many students handle this data. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, costing victims more than $5 billion annually.

College students are more likely to be hit by identity thieves because they are generally unprepared to protect themselves when the steady stream of requests for personal information begins.

Identity Theft Insurance

Identity theft insurance cannot protect you or your student from becoming a victim of identity theft and does not cover direct monetary losses incurred as a result. Instead, identity theft insurance provides coverages for the cost of reclaiming your or your student's financial identity - such as the costs of making phone calls, making copies, mailing documents, taking time off from work without pay (lost wages) and hiring an attorney.

Before You Buy

Check to see if your homeowners policy includes identity theft insurance, and ask your insurance agent if this extends to your student living away from your primary residence. If not, you might be able to purchase a stand-alone policy from another insurer, bank or credit card company. If your student is renting an apartment, ask if their renter's insurance covers identity theft, or if it could be added to the policy.

For More Information on Identity Theft

For tips on protecting your student from identity theft, visit www.naic.org

For more information on what to do if either of you becomes a victim, visit the Federal Trade Commission Web site or the U.S. Department of Education Web site

Your Insurance Options

For more information about auto, home, life and health insurance options, as well as tips for choosing the coverage that is right for you and your family, visit www.insureUonline.org

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Getting Married

10 INSURANCE-SMART THINGS TO DO BEFORE GETTING MARRIED

  • Before combing auto policies, have a frank conversation about your individual driving records. If combining policies doesn’t make mathematical sense, look into named-driver exclusions. However, be very careful about accepting a named-driver exclusion, as it voids coverage if that person drives the car.
  • Renters, take the time to update your renter’s insurance limits to cover your soon-to-be spouse’s personal items. If you don’t have renter’s insurance, now is a great time to educate yourself and consider purchasing it.
  • Buying your first home together? Carefully consider location, construction type and square footage as these likely will impact homeowners insurance premiums.
  • If you’re considering a fixer-upper as your first home, note that a renovation investment can change the property’s replacement value and your insurance needs. Before you buy, think about what the structure will offer today … and tomorrow.
  • Create a home inventory to prepare yourself for unexpected disasters. The NAIC’s MyHome Scr.APP.book app helps you catalog your belongings room by room using your mobile device. Available for Android® and iPhone®
  • Consider more than just the lowest premium when deciding whose health insurance plan to keep. Review provisions related to deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance. Pay particular attention to what is NOT covered.
  • Most group insurance providers view marriage as a qualifying major event allowing you to make related policy changes outside the approved open enrollment period. To avoid coverage gaps, report your change in family status promptly after.
  • Now that “I” means “we”, revisit life insurance coverage assumptions. Include future income potential, the cost of raising kids and outstanding mortgage payments in your calculation.
  • Proactively contact your HR department or individual life insurance provider to name your spouse and/or stepchildren as beneficiaries. Beneficiary changes don’t happen automatically.
  • Revisit all existing insurance policies to see if you qualify for better rates. Many insurers consider married couples lower risk, which may result in lower premiums.

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Growing Family

New Addition to the Family: New Parents Need To Get Smart on Coverage Options

A new baby touches every facet of a family’s life, including their finances. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more babies are born in August than in any other month. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) suggests these steps to help new parents protect their growing family.

Health Insurance

  • Understand your coverage before the baby arrives. Review coverage options and find out exactly how your health care plan handles the costs of a new baby. Remember to consider prenatal vitamins, prenatal and neo-natal screenings and tests, emergency procedures, delivery (C-section and traditional) and pediatric care.
  • Notify your insurer of your new baby. Make sure you are aware of the deadline and requirements to register your newborn with your health insurance company. Similarly, if you are adopting a child, consult your employer and health insurance provider for the requirements to obtain health insurance coverage in advance. For more information, check with your state insurance department at www.naic.org
  • Evaluate your options. If both parents have employee benefit options, compare the health insurance policies to see which one best fits the needs of your family. Review the co-pay amounts and different options carefully to see exactly what is covered - and what isn’t - for both parents and children. Most companies will allow you to make enrollment changes when a baby is added to the family. Check with the benefits administrator at your office about your options.
  • Make use of tax advantages. Ask if your employer offers a flexible spending account or health savings account (HSA). These plans allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars for medical expenses and child care.

Life Insurance

  • Plan the contributions of both spouses. Consider covering both spouses with life insurance, even if one is not employed outside the home. In the event of the stay-at-home parent’s death, the insurance policy can help the surviving spouse with the financial necessities of the household.
  • Account for child care costs. In determining the amount of life insurance to purchase, take into account your full child care costs (housing, education, child care, medical needs, etc.), especially for children under five years old or for kids with special needs.
  • Understand the types of life insurance. Understanding your life insurance choices will help you weigh the costs and benefits of whole life versus term life insurance as part of your overall financial plan.
    • Whole life insurance. Whole life insurance policies build cash value and pay a death benefit, but are more expensive. If you can’t afford whole life insurance right now but think you may want it in the future, consider term life insurance with a conversion option that will let you change to a whole life policy for a fee when you are ready.
    • Term life insurance. Term life insurance offers death benefit protection for a specified time period. For example, term life insurance may be appropriate during your child-rearing years or while paying off a mortgage. Term life premiums increase as you age. Term life is typically less expensive in your younger years than permanent life insurance, which covers you for your entire life and typically has level premiums.
  • Keep your policy current. Remember to update your policy to include your children as beneficiaries. If your children are under the age of 18, name a trustee who would administer the benefit of the policy until they are adults.

Auto Insurance

  • Check rates before upgrading vehicles. Auto insurance premiums are linked to vehicle age and type, so if you decide to get a larger vehicle, like a mini-van or SUV, to transport your family, it could affect your premiums.
  • Plan for carpools. Consider increasing your liability insurance in case of an accident when transporting other kids.

Homeowners Insurance

  • Notify your insurer of major additions. Alert your insurance company when making any major home improvements (usually anything over $5,000) to prevent being underinsured.
  • Protect the backyard. Inform your insurance company if you install backyard items for kids, such as a swing set, trampoline or swimming pool. You might consider increasing your liability coverage - that protects you in the event that someone is injured while on your property - with an umbrella policy.

More Information

If you have questions or are confused about your insurance coverage, contact your state insurance department


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Getting Assistance From The Mississippi Insurance Department (MID)

If we can be of assistance, please see the Request Assistance Page for information on how to contact us.


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